SOUTH PADRE ISLAND — Unlike most high school graduating classes, this year’s group of seniors have experienced several changes due to the coronavirus pandemic that entered their final stretch of the school year.
And in response to the adjustments, communities are working together to create new kinds of celebratory memories for these graduating seniors.
South Padre Island’s Valentine Holiday Sandcastle Village is transforming into a tribute area for Point Isabel ISD’s graduating high school class of 2020.
“We are so proud of the class of 2020,” sandcastle village founder and business owner Lucinda “Sandy Feet” Wierenga said. “We’re sad that they don’t have all of the things that we had when we graduated, but I think they’re going to have special memories from this too. They just need to overcome the obstacles and we’re proud of their hard work.”
Wierenga, along with three other sand sculptors, are creating a tribute wall made from sand that reads, “We Salute the class of 2020.”
The team of sand sculptors has also carved in the names of businesses or individuals who have made a donation in support of the project.
“So far there’s just three names on there, but there’s room for more and then what we’re doing throughout the sculpture is where we had all of the hearts for Valentine’s,” Wierenga said. “We’re taking those surfaces off and re-carving them.”
The sculptors are going to include the names of all of the Laguna Madre area’s 139 graduating high school seniors.
As of Monday, the sculptors have carved in about 51 names
“There’s a lot involved as far as recovering so we can re-carve those names, and it’s incredibly hot out there,” Wierenga said. “So there’s just certain times of the day where we’re really able to work like during the morning and later in the afternoon.
Wierenga said the sculptors aim to have everyone’s name placed on the sand sculpture by May 22, which is one of the school district’s proposed graduation ceremony dates
Additionally, there’s a sand sculpture throne that graduates can sit on and have their picture taken.
“We admire the class of 2020 for what they’ve accomplished,” Wierenga said. “We’d love for the graduates to come out there and get their picture taken with the throne and their names.”
According to Wierenga, donations will be used to buy materials, such as glue to help keep the sculptures intact.
“There’s nobody really paying for it or anything. We’ve been very blessed because people are putting a little bit of money in the donation box and that helps us purchase supplies,” she said. “I’ve got two more shade tents coming so that hopefully will put a little more shade on us and we’ll be able to work longer hours.”
To make a donation or become a sponsor, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call Wierenga at (956) 459-2928.